Geothermal wells have the ability to provide heat and a/c naturally. One school in Massachusetts is tapping into geothermal, and they expect to save $17,000 a year. After 6 years, the investment will have paid for itself, and begin saving thousands from then on.
The geothermal system involves a series of three wells drilled 6 inches wide and 1,500 feet deep. At this depth, the earth’s energy warms the well water to a constant temperature of 50 to 60 degrees. The heated water is pumped out of the wells and into a heat exchanger. In the winter, the heat exchanger takes the heat out of the water, pressurizes the heat to raise its temperature even more, and uses it to warm the cold air in the building. In the summer, the heat exchanger absorbs the excess heat from the air, blows the newly cooled air back into the building, and discharges the unwanted heat back into the earth.
Massachusetts has other churches and schools opting for geothermal heat when it comes time to retrofit and replace old heating systems. Researchers at MIT have found that geothermal systems are more efficient, reliable, and cost-effective than wind and solar energy. This video should explain it all.
West Chester University in PA is also using geothermal energy, with plans to expand the program. Their Sustainability page has a nice, simple explanation of the process.
It just makes sense to make the extra investment now for long-term savings, and environmental benefits in the future. Other countries are using geothermal energy with great success. I hope to see more research into this potential.